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We’ll scrap ‘outrageous’ tampon tax: UKIP

The UK Independence Party, the upstart anti-immigration and European Union party, has made a bid for the female vote, becoming the first major British political party to vow to scrap the sales tax on tampons and sanitary pads.

Ahead of a too-close-to-call national election on May 7, the populist party said it would remove the "invidious" tax on women's sanitary products should it gain power.

"Taxing tampon's is straight out of the dark ages, it is a hangover from a distant past when policy makers disregarded the interests and health of woman and it must not be allowed to continue," said Suzanne Evans, UKIP's head of policy, in a news statement.


UKIP leader Nigel Farage and supporters celebrate the Mark Reckless' win
Carl Court | Getty Images News | Getty Images
UKIP leader Nigel Farage and supporters celebrate the Mark Reckless' win

Items deemed "essential," such as most food and children's clothes, are free from consumer tax in the U.K. However EU rules dictate that tampons and sanitary pads are designated as a "non-essential luxury" and taxed at five percent—below the top 20 percent rate levied on most goods and services.

On Thursday, Evans used the mantle of the "tampon tax" to deride European Union legislation and trumpet UKIP's policy of removing the U.K. from the 28-country politico-economic alliance.

"Under EU rules, no item that has ever had VAT (value-added tax) charged on it can have VAT removed completely. This shows not only how ridiculous EU legislation is, but how very wrong it is that we've given our tax sovereignty over to a bunch of faceless—and mostly male—EU Commissioners who simply don't understand real life, let alone real life for women."

She added: "The rules are so daft, that you can go for a swim without paying any VAT, but you'll be charged for it on the tampon you need to wear in order to go for a swim. It's plain stupid."

UKIP is the only British party pledged to take the country out of the EU. Prime Minister David Cameron has committed to holding a referendum on the issue in 2017, should the Conservatives remain in power, but is, himself, against an exit.

UKIP does not have the best record with women. In 2013, Godfrey Bloom, a UKIP MEP (member of the European Parliament) stirred up controversy after describing female party members as "sluts."

Campaigns to end the taxation of female sanitary products have gained momentum in the U.K. and other countries, such as Canada.

A petition called "Stop taxing periods. Period," directed at U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, has attracted 219,764 online supporters.